Dioceses of Saskatoon and Regina provide updates about Catholic TRC financial commitment

A star blanket, sacred pipe, and smudging bowl in front of the altar at St. Mary Catholic Church in Saskatoon during a closing Mass of a four-day memorial wake for children who died at residential schools, organized by Our Lady of Guadalupe Indigenous Parish. (Catholic Saskatoon News file photo)

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Two Saskatchewan dioceses are among those following up on a recent announcement by the Catholic Bishops of  Canada providing further details related to a national $30-million financial pledge to support healing and reconciliation initiatives for residential school survivors and their communities.

On Feb. 2, both the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon and the Archdiocese of Regina provided more information about goals, structures and priorities related to their diocesan commitments to the Catholic TRC Healing Response.

Letter from Saskatoon Bishop Hagemoen – PDF

Statement from Truth and Reconciliation Committee Co-chairs Regina Archbishop Don Bolen and Susan Beaudin – PDF

The two dioceses are among 73 across Canada collectively committing $30 million nationally over the next five years in support of regionally-based healing and reconciliation projects.

“Projects will be allocated to local and regional initiatives responding to the related Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Calls to Action, as guided by Indigenous representatives,” said Bishop Mark Hagemoen in an update provided to the diocese.

In his letter, Hagemoen announced a $1.25-million financial commitment goal for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.

In a Feb. 2 news release, the Archdiocese of Regina Truth and Reconciliation Committee Co-chairs Archbishop Donald Bolen and Susan Beaudin announced a $2-million goal for their archdiocese.

“While funds will be disbursed locally, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops have agreed to establish a new registered charity to manage funds across the country with transparency and good governance, including oversight from an Indigenous Board of Directors,” said Hagemoen. The fund will publish annual reports and will be subject to an audit by an independent accounting firm each year.


Indigenous partnerships

Both announcements described steps being taken to actively engage Indigenous partners in the discernment, allocation and distribution of funds.

Establishment of a “Discernment Circle” with Indigenous and non-Indigenous representatives is underway in the diocese of Saskatoon, noted Hagemoen.

A Truth and Reconciliation Committee within the Archdiocese of Regina has been set up, with First Nations and Métis representatives, including Survivors of residential schools and children of Survivors, stated the archdiocesan news release. “As committee members, we have been meeting regularly to reflect on how we in this region can take part in this national initiative in a good way. We welcome the announcement from the CCCB and look forward to continuing to walk with and build right relationships with Survivors and their communities.”

The archdiocesan statement added: “We are committed to making good use of the resources received so that they can directly benefit residential school Survivors and their families and communities. To that end, we have held many circles and had conversations with Indigenous Peoples over the past months, and have heard a strong request that we be Indigenous-led, and consult with groups of Survivors to provide direction.”

Funds will be allocated in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action #60, 61, and 73-76, listed the Archdiocese of Regina statement. This includes:

  1. Healing and Reconciliation for communities and families;
  2. Survivor-directed work related to cemeteries on sites of former residential schools;
  3. Language, culture, education and community support;
  4. Support that recognizes and validates the spiritual life and practice of Indigenous Peoples.

“I am grateful to all those who have already supported this important initiative with donations and prayers,” said Saskatoon’s bishop. “As Catholics, and as brothers and sisters of a much larger human community – we know that we must all take responsibility for amends and healing for past sins. We now enter this new time of opportunity and responsibility.”

Hagemoen described a renewed sense of excitement about healing and relationship-building as a response to the harmful legacy of residential schools. He called for fulfilling “the vision given to us by God our Creator for ‘right relationship’ – with God, other people, and all creation”

Hagemoen concluded: “Let us continue to journey together on a path of reconciliation and healing, actively building “right relationship” through dialogue, awareness and action.”